Review: Official Set 8548 - Nui-Jaga
Moving into the next Bionicle Rahi set from 2001, the Nui-Jaga are scorpion-like creatures on the island of Mata Nui. Their stingers were a very valuable resource that Po-Matorans essentially poached, and they were rather unintelligent ones. A simple reflection in rock or ice would confuse the heck out of a Nui-Jaga, which made them one of the easier threats to deal with.
With a suggested age of 8+ and a 218 piece count, this set gives me the expectation that it will be similar to the Nui-Rama, but will include a bit more for the builder.
The Nui-Jaga box really pops out with the color of the Rahi with the models posed in front of a desert background. These Rahi are native to the regions of Po-Wahi, so it makes perfect sense to use this as the background for them. The back of the box shows the key play function of the Nui-Jaga, as well as a preview of the Kahu combination model. In the bottom right corner of the box there is a glimpse of Bionicle.com circa 2001, and there’s also some images from Mata Nui Online Game I.
Inside we receive two numbered bags, each of which contains parts for one of the Nui-Jaga. Bag 1 contains the blue Nui-Jaga and Bag 2 contains the purple Nui-Jaga. There are also two instruction manuals, one for each of the Nui-Jaga models. There is nothing too special on the back of the instructions or on the inside cover, they more or less focus solely on the building steps. The instructions for the purple Nui-Jaga include the instructions to the combination model.
Just like the Nui-Rama, the Nui-Jaga builds are identical. The medium blue pieces and purple pieces are exactly the same across both models, which I understand, but am still a little disappointed by. Much like the Nui-Rama changed the front nose/mouth piece on each model, I wish that the Nui-Jaga switched up the masks on each model rather than them both having Pakari masks. That critique aside these are some really interesting models. They nail the scorpion look of the beasts, and I can immediately imagine the legs skittering as the Nui-Jaga make their way across desert landscapes. One touch that I want to point out is the white claw mouth. Without this piece, the models do still resemble scorpions, but the mouth adds that touch of ferocity to them that makes them look more monstrous. Excellent choice by The LEGO® Group.
The Nui-Jaga include a single play function, which is the action of striking with their stinger. This is done very cleverly where pulling a technic beam back like a trigger causes the stinger to swing down and strike whatever lies in front of the Nui-Jaga. Something that I couldn’t help but notice is that when the stinger swings down, the head pulls back due to the way that all of the technic beams are attached. While there’s no proof as to whether or not this was done intentionally, I give the designers the benefit of the doubt and assume this was a small touch they included with the model, and it’s so cool that they did. This mechanism does come with a catch though. Due to how tall this mechanism ends up being, the legs of the Nui-Jaga can’t reach the ground. This is a big-time bummer because the feet can’t touch the ground, but it isn’t the worst thing in the world. I would rather have an upgraded mechanism for the play feature than the feet touching the ground.
The Nui-Jaga set includes instructions for a combination model called the Kahu, which is a type of gukko bird on Mata Nui. As stated before the instructions to the Kahu are found in the instructions to the purple Nui-Jaga.
It seems like almost always the combination models are just larger, juiced up versions of the base model, but this one is a beath of fresh air. The Kahu is a completely different model and I love that. The model itself is a pretty cool design but has a few things that I wish were different such as the seating arrangement for Tohunga and the ability to tilt the wings up and down.
The Nui-Jaga are definitely interesting models, but they don’t have a lasting impact on me. They introduced a very impressive play feature and put a unique spin on the combination model, but the exact replication of the two scorpions just has me feeling a bit let down.
If you want to buy the Nui-Jaga for yourself, I strongly suggest going the used route, or part-out the set on Bricklink. A brand-new Nui-Jaga set will cost you about 120 Dollars and a used one will cost around 60 Dollars. Compared to their launch price of $35, this set has become very pricey to get a hold of, so I would advise you to save this one for if you are trying to complete a collection or are simply in love with the set.